Presented by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the 12th annual Chi Chi Miguel Weekend took place April 5-7 in Santa Rosa Beach and Miramar Beach and raised $2 million for Gulf Coast charities.
Founded in 2006 by co-chairs Valerie and Mike “Chi Chi Miguel” Thompson as a small backyard barbecue competition, the Throwdown Benefit Auction & BBQ has since expanded to a three-day, star-studded event and one of the most successful fundraisers along the Emerald Coast.
The sold-out weekend began in Miramar Beach with a shot-gun style Golf Tournament and Wine Walkabout wine tasting benefiting Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, and a Sip ‘n Shop at Emeril’s Coastal Italian benefiting Alaqua Animal Refuge.
On Saturday, the Throwdown Benefit Auction & BBQ took place at Churchill Oaks Clubhouse in Santa Rosa Beach and brought together the very best in wine, food and philanthropy. The spirited outdoor barbecue competition featured five star-studded cooking teams of winemakers, pitmasters and well-known chefs, including Dan Kosta, Tim Creehan, Rich Aurilia and Chef Emeril Lagasse. Celebrity judges were Aarón Sánchez, Jim Shirley, Jim Richard and Trish “Sassy Q” Hines.
Drawing guests from across the country, the Throwdown kicked-off with a “porktail” hour with exclusive wines poured by some of Napa Valley and Sonoma’s best winemakers. The festivities continued with silent and live auctions featuring private wine estate experiences, collectible wines, luxury travel expeditions, fine jewelry and custom artwork. Guests also enjoyed Nat Sherman cigar tastings and musical entertainment by Honey Island Swamp Band.
“It’s been incredible to see this event grow from a backyard barbecue with friends into a world-class fundraising event that makes such a positive impact on this community that we’re lucky to call home,” said Emeril Lagasse, chairman and founder of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “My wife Alden and I are continuously amazed and humbled by the generosity of our guests, sponsors, chefs and winemakers, all of whom help make our charitable efforts possible.”
Funds raised during the weekend will be distributed to charities along the Gulf Coast, with the majority of grants given to local organizations. Beneficiaries include the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Alaqua Animal Refuge, Camille’s Art for Autism, Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Food For Thought Outreach, the Ingram Lee Foundation, Seaside School Foundation and Sinfonia Gulf Coast.